Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior:
Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
~ Isaiah 43.16-21
The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and behold my suffering:
I called to my lovers but they deceived me; see, O Lord, how distressed I am; my stomach churns, my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death.
~ Lamentations 1.18-20
I grew up in a pretty stereotypical Evangelical setting, which led to a pretty stereotypical back-and-forth between guilt and self-righteousness. That is, until I really heard the Gospel of radical Grace.
Many of us have this same story, where it has been so healing to hear that how God relates to us is not, in fact, based on our performance. Instead, everything necessary for God to be pleased with us has been accomplished on our behalf by his Son.
In response to this, we fall in love with God’s Grace. We pray for it, long for it, and cry for it. We read books about it, write about it, and talk about it. We try and speak it into others’ lives while trying to figure out why we don’t apply it to our own. We joyfully build our relationship with God on the glorious foundation of His Grace. It is fundamental, primary, and essential.
In short: we love Grace.
Imagine my surprise, then, as I fell in love with liturgy and ancient forms of worship, to notice the utter lack of “grace” from the prayers and worship of the earliest saints. Continue reading